By Kimaya Singh
A back injury or severe back pain can be extremely debilitating and take the joy out of life. One of the best ways to strengthen your back and get out of pain is to establish a simple, gentle, and regular yoga training routine.
Back pain can comes from a wide range of causes such as trauma, strain, sprain, osteoporosis, herniated disc or discs, scoliosis (lateral curvature of the spine), sciatica, or osteoarthritis, to name a few.
From mild to severe back pain conditions, Yoga helps strengthen the skeletal system and back muscles. Yoga also helps with the reduction of the level of back pain. Chronic pain can wear the mind down, but Yoga can help us manage this pain, and possibly eliminate it.
The following are a few yoga poses, or “asanas,” that make the back more flexible and stronger. Yoga is about honoring your body where it is, and not experiencing pain while doing the poses. Gradually and with more practice you will become more flexible.
A precept of Yoga is not to compete with others. Your practice is very much a personal journey of self-discovery. There is no need to compare yourself with anyone.
Single Leg Raise
Lying flat on the Yoga mat, raise one leg, straight up toward the ceiling, while leaving the other leg extended on the floor. You may leave the other knee bent if it is painful to extend one leg while raising the other. Then do the same with the other leg, holding for the same amount of time. This pose prepares your body for other moves.
Double Leg Raise
The higher your legs are, the less pressure your lower back will experience. The hands can be used to wedge at the lumbar curve and under the buttocks. Lying flat, bring your knees to your chest and raise both legs, straight up toward the ceiling, keeping the full length of your back on the floor. Also keep your neck and shoulders relaxed. You can use a strap or your hands to hold your legs up, if needed.
On all fours, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips, make a flat table top of your back. Then gently, slowly, arch your back into an angry cat pose. Gently pull your chin down, while imagining space between all your vertebra. Then slowly release your back until you spine has curved down, while gently looking up, extend your spine the other direction into what is referred to as cow. Move slowly and gracefully between cat and cow, picturing every vertebra getting this stretch first in one direction, then the other.
Beginning on all fours, raise up your back until you’re in an upside down “V” – legs and arms fairly straight. Please do not lock the knees or elbow joints, keep them slightly flexed. Have your ears in line with your arms. You may pedal your feet up and down slowly to loosen up the hamstrings. This pose is a healthy inversion, as well as being a form of traction, releasing the weight that generally pulls down on the spine. Picture each vertebra having space around it while holding this asana.
Modifications for Downward Dog
In some cases, Downward Dog should be approached with extreme caution. When entering into this asana from all fours, you could keep the knees bent as you hold this pose. Additionally, you could start from a standing asana, such as: Tadasana. Place a chair in front of you, take one half step back and fold gently at the waist. Reach with your hands across the chair to the far edge of the seat and slowly draw your body weight back into your hips to create the straightest possible line with your spine. Your movements should always be gentle and no force should be applied to any of these techniques.
Yoga training for back conditions should be approved by your physician. It is always wise to learn them with the guidance of a competent Yoga teacher. In many cases, it is recommended that students take a private lesson with a certified yoga instructor, to completely understand the body mechanics, therapeutic benefits and specific precautions regarding these and all yogic techniques.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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